A Scientist on Writing and Style


When you think about writing, you probably don’t think about the visual aspects, per se, do you? I know I didn’t. Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker points out that writing is a very visual experience. He says:

“Good writing is actually written for the eye, it’s not just that vowels and consonants just pour into your ear, but as you understand language, you should be able to imagine what it is the writer is experiencing. The overuse of clichés turns readers’ visual brains off, and it makes writing dull and turgid. As they say, avoid clichés like the plague.”

For more on his take on style in writing, read this.



Cultural Rhetorics Conference

Photo credit: Kellogg Center

MSU is hosting the 2014 Cultural Rhetorics Conference from Friday, October 30 – Saturday, November 1 at the Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center.

Cultural Rhetorics scholars study meaning-making practices and, sometimes, the things produced through those practices like baskets, books, dances, poems, websites, buildings, and landscapes.

We use the term “cultural rhetorics” to emphasize an orientation to a set of constellating methodological and theoretical frames we engage in our scholarly and teaching practices. Those frames draw from and across Rhetoric & Composition Studies, various Ethnic Studies fields, Postcolonial Studies, Decolonial Studies, Gender Studies, Performance Studies, Cultural Studies, and others.

This is mainly an event for graduate students, but undergraduates are encouraged to attend, especially those who are interested in grad school.

For more information: http://culturalrhetorics.org/crconf/

Twitter’s New Buy Button

Twitter Buy Button

For a small percentage of U.S. users, which is predicted to grow over time, some Tweets from will feature a “Buy” button that will let you buy directly from a Tweet with a single click.

Twitter users will get special access to offers and merchandise only available on Twitter. This new application is even available on Twitter apps for Android and iOS.

Creators of the Twitter buy button foresee merchants gaining a new way to turn their Twitter following into sales and those followers gaining a more convenient and user-friendly way of shopping online. Companies already onboard the buy button train include: Fancy (@fancy), Gumroad (@gumroad), Musictoday (@musictoday) and Stripe (@stripe).

I don’t know about you but my wallet is already crying out in pain.

Here is how it is expected to work:

RTE Making an Impact in the Field of English Education

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The journal, Research in the Teaching of English (RTE), is making a big impact in the field of English education and related fields. RTE is the flagship research journal of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) in the United States. It is a broad-based, multidisciplinary journal composed of original research articles and short scholarly essays on a wide range of topics significant to those concerned with the teaching and learning of languages and literacies around the world, both in and beyond schools and universities.

Currently housed at Michigan State University, the editorial team includes co-editors MSU faculty Ellen Cushman (department of Rhetoric, Writing, and American Cultures) and Mary M. Juzwik (department of Teacher Education) and assistant editors Amanda Smith, a graduate student in Teacher education who works on production; Kati Macaluso, a graduate student in Teacher Education who handles manuscript intake and reviewer assignments; and Esther Milu, a graduate student in the department of Rhetoric, Writing and American Cultures who handles special projects and daily journal tasks.

In the past year, the journal has made a significant impact in the following ways:

  • RTE received more than three times as many submissions this calendar year from the previous calendar year (up from 65 as reported by the former editorial team to 202 submissions).
  • The circulation rate for RTE as of the end of June 2014 was 2,517, up 5.5% from 2,385 at the end of June 2013.
  • There has been a three-fold increase in request for reprints of RTE articles. NCTE had projected to make $400 but made over $1,200 in permissions fees. NCTE also sold more than its projected number of back issues.
  • In the past fiscal year, the journal increased its projected annual income by 40%.
  • Comparatively, RTE impact continues to rank considerably higher than others journals in writing and composition according to the SCImago Journal and Country Ranking.

The RTE team works vigorously to increase the impact factor of the journal in numerous ways. The team has been recruiting manuscripts at national and international conferences, including the annual meetings like:

  • National Council for Teachers of English
  • Literacy Research Association
  • American Educational Research Association
  • Conference on College Composition and Communication
  • The biennial meeting of the International Association for the Improvement of Mother Tongue Education in Paris
  • Writing Research Across Borders Conference

To support the vision of increasing the global presence of the journal, RTE has begun to publish abstracts translations in the following languages:Arabic, French, German, Hindi, Korean, Mandarin, Russian and Spanish. The team is currently developing a tracking system to assess the impact of the translations on the journal beginning with the pilot issue, 49.1 (August 2014).

Building Capacity for Authors and Reviewers

RTE editors not only cultivates and publishes impactful research, but also builds the scholarly capacity of authors and reviewers along the way. The journal has devoted portions of its editorial introductions to these efforts, including in Volume 48, issue 2, for example, a list of Ten Tips for Authors. In addition, the editorial team has designed a “How to Review Tutorial”, which is now published on the RTE homepage. This “How to Review” tutorial will serve as the foundation for a writing and reviewing for publication workshop being piloted at the MSU Literacy Colloquy on November 18, 2014.

RTE/Research Assembly Panel at 2014 NCTE Conference

This year, during the NCTE annual conference, RTE co-editors Mary Juzwik and Ellen Cushman will host a featured research session titled “A Dialogue about Literacy Educational Practice and Research in the Teaching of English(es): Emerging Directions and Possibilities.” The roundtable will feature scholars and literacy educators leading discussions about exciting areas of work related to English language arts teaching and learning in pre-K-12 schools, post-secondary colleges and universities, and community settings. Participants will leave the session with a broad sense of where the scholarly field of language and literacy education is now and where it might be going. If you are planning to attend NCTE this year, you are encouraged to attend. To learn more about the impactful work RTE is doing, please visit their website at http://www.ncte.org/journals/rte.